At a recent Capital Hill science briefing organized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Human Toxicology Project Consortium coordinator Kate Willett joined toxicologists from industry and the EPA to discuss how reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) can capitalize on scientific advances in non-animal test methods.  Participants explained how technologies such as high-throughput screening, organs-on-chips, and computational modeling will improve the relevance and efficiency of safety assessments, and produce crucial information more quickly. The Royal Society of Chemisty’s Chemistry World covered the briefing.

The experts gathered at the briefing agreed that tremendous advances had been made since the 1970s in understanding how chemicals can interact with biological systems – at the molecular, cellular and organ level. For example, high throughput screening now enables thousands of chemicals to be evaluated in a matter of hours or days….

Kate Willett, a toxicologist at the Humane Society of the US, noted that the critical goal of [TSCA] is to protect human health and the environment. This means a system is needed that can quickly identify potential problems and address them in the most time- and cost-effective way possible.

Willett stressed that any new TSCA reform measure must allow for “the continuing evolution of this science.” Therefore, she said the final updated law should require that all alternative approaches are used before moving to animal testing. “Reducing reliance on animal testing allows more chemicals to be more thoroughly assessed in the most efficient way possible – a win for environmental protection and the industry, and also for the animals that are used in this testing.”

The House and Senate have both passed TSCA reform bills (H.R. 2576 and S. 697) and now must reconcile differences between the two versions.